Last Updated: September 04, 2023, 11:12 IST
Pakistan election commission said the nation could go to polls in January 2024 but Pak apex court could direct it to hold elections earlier. (Image: Reuters File)
Pakistan’s rights commission has demanded immediate election schedule to end uncertainty, expresses concerns over delimitation and rising polarisation
A leading human rights commission in Pakistan has urged an immediate resolution of the “uncertainty” surrounding the upcoming general elections and called upon the primary electoral authority to swiftly release the election schedule. In an official statement, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said that its members had conveyed “significant apprehension” regarding this issue during a meeting held on Sunday.
“The governing Council of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), on concluding a meeting earlier today, has expressed immense concern over the uncertainty surrounding the general #elections,” the rights organisation said.
PRESS RELEASEUncertainty around elections must end immediately
Lahore, 3 September 2023. The governing Council of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), on concluding a meeting earlier today, has expressed immense concern over the uncertainty surrounding the general…
— Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (@HRCP87) September 3, 2023
“HRCP insists that the @ECP_Pakistan announce an election schedule promptly such that polls are held as close as possible to the stipulated 90-day period. The delimitation of constituencies must also be completed quickly and efficiently and under no circumstances used as an excuse to delay the elections any further,” the statement added.
Even more alarming is HRCP’s apprehension regarding the potential for manipulation of the electoral process by government institutions. The HRCP has fervently urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to vigilantly safeguard against this possibility.
Hina Jilani, the chairperson of HRCP, said the group is greatly alarmed by the increasingly polarised environment, in which religious and sectarian divisions are being exacerbated reportedly to carve out artificial political space for far-right parties such as the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP).
“The divisive and violent tactics used by such parties to build their political identities—particularly at the expense of religious minorities and sects—is eating into organic political and civic spaces. The continuing terrorist violence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has also made political parties more apprehensive about campaigning in the province—a pattern we have witnessed before and must not go through again,” she said.
“Apart from ensuring that free, fair and credible elections take place, the test of the current caretaker government is to see not only whether it will protect and respect people’s right to protest peacefully, but also whether it will respond to the issues that ordinary citizens are mobilising around,” she added.
This criticism comes as the poll body’s decision to postpone elections beyond November 9, based on the necessity to await the results of the 2023 digital census, has not convinced many.
Earlier, the ECP had projected the completion date for the delimitation process by December 14, which exceeded the constitutionally prescribed deadline for holding polls by over a month. However, last week ECP expedited the timeline for constituency delimitation for national and provincial assemblies, aiming to conclude the process by November 30.